We have a funny saying in our family “nothing is free in Bali”, that joke is made because like in lots of Asian countries there are often hidden fees or expected entry charges to many areas. The saying is not entirely true though, after being a Bali expat for the past four years we can guarantee the below activities and attractions are FREE and well worth adding to your Bali itinerary…
Enjoy a Bali sunset
This is one of our favourite things to do on the Island. There are so many vantage points in Bali to take in a beautiful sunset. You should really make it your mission to enjoy more than one sunset during your Bali stay. The beaches from Kuta through to Canggu are some of the most popular spots where you will see locals and tourists flocking to when it comes time each day for “Golden Hour”. You can also catch amazing sunsets from the North of Bali, down in the Bukit Peninsular and one of our favourite spots Amed. In Amed you also get to see the sunset with a stunning backdrop of Bali’s biggest volcano Mt Agung!
Visit the many beaches
Bali has many different types of beaches. There are beaches with white sand, black sand and coral. There are beaches with huge waves, beginner waves, reef break waves and no waves at all. There are beaches you can get to by car, ones that you must walk down many stairs to reach and even some secret beaches! Exploring Bali’s best beaches should for sure be on your itinerary and it won’t cost you a cent, you can bodyboard on the waves, get yourself a tan, explore the rock pools and enjoy the different vibes on the many Bali beaches. Some of almost empty, while others are like festivals with many sunbeds, sellers of many different types of goods and even popcorn and cotton candy are on offer. You will find locals, tourists and expats all flocking to Bali beaches to enjoy them.
Walk Campuhan Ridge in Ubud
Campuhan Ridge is a gorgeous walking track in Ubud. It takes you on a delightful nature walk showcasing Ubud’s natural beauty. It’s a famous track that no doubt you’ve seen pop up on your social feeds. The vibe is like a jungle or forest and you are up relatively high. It’s best to walk this track near sunrise to avoid the heat and to get to enjoy one of the most beautiful times of day in Ubud. The walk takes around 25-40 minutes depending on if you stop. It’s very beautiful and sure to be one of the highlights of an Ubud visit.
Stroll the markets
Bali is full of bustling and colourful markets. There are shopping markets, food markets and markets that specialise in handicrafts made by the clever Balinese. Even if you are not there to buy anything, the markets are a great place to visit and take a walk around. There are many amazing items for sale and there is a real vibe amongst the cheerful sellers, who will do anything to get your attention. Checkout some of Bali’s best and most famous markets here.
Observe artists, wood carvers, jewellery makers at work
The Balinese are very clever with their hands, they can literally make almost anything. From amazing kites, to wood carvings, to intricate jewellery, to the most detailed paintings you’ll ever see. Many of the artisans will work directly from their store fronts, meaning you can see them at work at no charge. While they are scattered right throughout Bali in many different areas, one of the most famous areas to find artisans at work at Mas Village (near Ubud). Here you will find generations of wood carvers and painters who are born into their livelihoods. They are very comfortable with you taking a seat to watch them at work, some may even offer you to have a try at their skill yourself!
Watch cultural ceremonies
Bali is made up of 80% Hindus, this is a very colourful and dedicated religion. You can’t help but be immersed in it once you are in Bali. From the daily offerings you see by the thousands laid out each day, to the many different ceremonies that take place throughout the Balinese calendar year. You won’t need to look hard to become witness to some of these traditions. They happen in every village, in every area of Bali right throughout the year. They often happen right in the middle of the street, so chances are you’ll even see some ceremonies while in traffic or just walking around. There are ceremonies for weddings, funerals, full moons, to bless different things, for different times of the year….there is always something happening in the Hindu calendar. Expect to see lots of colour, lots of smiling faces, lots of offerings, lots of incense burning and lots of intricate, handmade decorations.
Catch a sunrise and do yoga on the beach in Sanur
When you are on the East Coast of Bali you don’t get to see the sunsetting, but you can get up early to catch a magnificent sunrise. Our favourite spot in Bali to see the sunrise is in Sanur. The calm ocean is home to many traditional boats, which make the perfect Balinese silhouettes in the water as the sun starts to rise above them. You will also find on the beach in Sanur (Pantai Karang to be exact) at 7.30am each morning there is a free yoga lesson. Just bring your own mat or towel. The lesson is in Indonesian, but yoga is a universal language and it’s easy to follow along. You’ll find many locals, expats and tourists all joining in on the morning classes.
Chat with a local and learn about their daily lives
This is one of our favourite things to do, even after living in Bali for so long. There is saying on the Island that is everything is on “Bali time”, and it’s true, you should never try to be in a rush in Bali. For punctual, busy people this can be frustrating at first, but eventually you’ll get used to it and perhaps enjoy it! The beauty of everyone being on “Bali Time” is no one is ever in a hurry and there is always time for a chat. You’d be surprised at how many languages the locals can speak, especially the ones who have spent their time in the tourist areas. They love to have a chat with foreigners and learn a little bit about you, and you can learn a lot about them. Spending time with some of the locals and having a chat is one of the best ways to learn about the culture and the area, as well as picking up on some of the local language and customs.
Visit the malls
A big attraction to Bali is the outside lifestyle, so visiting malls doesn’t always come up on the radar when planning an itinerary. Bali does have some amazing malls though, some of which are even open air. There are many great stores and restaurants in each, there are cinemas and there are always different activities and entertainment in each that is free to watch and enjoy. The malls can be a great place to retreat too when the sun gets too hot or when it starts to rain.
Explore the abandoned planes, theme parks, shipwrecks and hotels
Strangely there is a lot of “abandoned” places in Bali, there are multiple abandoned planes and also an amusement park, some hotels and a shipwreck. It is quite popular to drop in and visit these places to check them out. Not for those that scare easily though! The most famous of the abandoned places to visit, Taman Festival (an abandoned amusement park) is believed to be haunted, which adds to the thrill of those who dare to visit. This can be a fun activity to imagine what could have been in these places and have an eery and spooky adventure!
Attend a Kite Festival
The Balinese LOVE kite flying! In fact, it is like a community sport right throughout Bali. There are thousands of different types of kites they make by hand, there are even fighting kites, where they battle each other until one kite loses. Some kites are so huge it literally takes dozens of people to carry and launch them. A chance to compete in many different categories of kite making and flying happens during the windy months of the year in a few different annual kite festivals. Mostly held in August on the East Coast of Bali the venues and dates change each year for these festivals. It’s worth staying tuned to local media channels to find out when and where they are happening. These are colourful and fun events where you will see the true passion for kite flying and amazing craftsmanship of Balinese both young and old. There are many different categories for the competitions, but our favourite is the freestyle category where you will see the most creative of the kites on display. We’ve seen a with riding a bicycle kits, Simpson character kites, UFO kites and so many more in this category. There is often even a chance to learn how to make your own basic kite for free at these festivals too!
Walk through the Munduk flower fields
Bali is known for its tropical, sunny weather, many people don’t realise that there are parts of Bali where it actually gets cold enough to sit by a fire at night-time. One of these areas is Munduk, in the mountains of central Bali. This climate is perfect for growing many of the gorgeous flowers you see on display in the venues throughout Bali. A lot of these flowers are also used in the many religious ceremonies that take place. In Munduk, along the roadside, you’ll see lots of gorgeous fields of flowers. Our favourites being hydrangeas and marigolds. The fields are lovely to stop by and take some pictures of, please be careful not to walk on any of the plants or pick any flowers though, these fields are people’s livelihoods. You’ll find plenty of roadside places to purchase the flowers if you’d like to take some with you.
There you have it, there are actually some amazing FREE things to do in Bali! Top tips though are to make sure you have transport arranged (be it car, scooter, pushbike, private driver), and please be respectful of the property and customs taking place. Bali is a wonderful place to enjoy and explore and we are sure these 12 things will be time well spent while you are on the Island!